Greetings from Esther, Steve, and Derek! We are here to talk about our new book ESTHER THE WONDER PIG: Changing the World One Heart at a Time, which is a story about how Derek and I got a whole lot more than we bargained for when the “micro" piglet we adopted turned out to be a full-sized 600-pound sow! Sure raising a full-size commercial pig has it’s challenges at times, but we honestly couldn’t imagine our lives without our lovable girl, Esther. She’s inspired us become vegans, animal right activists, and to found the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary in Campbellville, ON, where we continue to rescue and rehabilitate abandoned and abused farm animals. Esther’s unique story shows that families really do come in all shapes and sizes.

More information is on our website:

My Proof: Additional Proof:

Thank you all for your questions! This has been great. Follow our social media to keep up to date with Esther. Facebook: Twitter: @EstherThePig Instagram: @estherthewonderpig

Comments: 115 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

larviz2716 karma

Has Esther ever step on your feet? Do you guys have to wear boots?

EstherTheWonderPig8 karma

Hahaha! Yes she has, but only a few times. She's typically very good and knowing where her trotters are, and stepping carefully around us. We do sometimes need to move the dogs, and always keep watch just in case. But in general, she watches her step so no boots required.

jmodern11 karma

Hi! I have been following Esther for awhile. I have two mini pigs named Paddington and Fozzie.

My question is: how many swimming pools does Esther go through throughout the year?

EstherTheWonderPig11 karma

LOTS!! We've tried everything short of building a concrete "lagoon" style pool. The only thing she likes now are the little soft blue ones so she can lean her head on the side. We currently have them stacked three deep, and will replace it two or three times over the course of the summer. The concrete lagoon will hopefully happen soon. : )

Springbks79 karma

Hi Steve and Derek! I pre-ordered your book and I am very much looking forward to reading it!

I suppose this will probably be covered in the book, but I was curious as to how you decided to turn Esther into a social media sensation. Was this marketing recommended to help finance the sanctuary? Or did it just start sort of spontaneously? Thanks!

EstherTheWonderPig16 karma

It was totally spontaneous. The initial idea behind the Facebook page was to show our friends and family what life with Esther was like. We lived in a community with bylaws against pigs, so we hadn't shown her much on our personal pages. We thought a dedicated page could allow us to show her off, without drawing attention to us directly. Clearly it didn't work out the way we expected though. It wasn't until a few months in that we decided to not only leave our house for a country property, but to turn it into a sanctuary.

Mary_Max8 karma

Steve and Derek,

This isn't a question so much as a comment. I've been following you for quite a while, since before you purchased the farm. I just wanted to say how absolutely incredible everything you do is, and how much of an impact you have on your followers. Your page is always filled with so much joy, there are hardly any negative comments, which is an incredible feat and so inspiring! One 600lb pig can bring together people from every country/culture!

So, now that that's out of the you guys ever get tired of doing all that you do? Was it a hard transition from suburban/urban life to living life on a farm in the country?

And I've always wondered, are there any animals on the farm that Esther doesn't like? I imagine her rolling her eyes a lot. Thanks!

EstherTheWonderPig7 karma

Hahahaha! Thank you so much. We never get emotionally tired, but it is physically exhausting at times for sure. Working on establishing a work/personal time balance with this new path we're taking is a top priority. Burn out is a scary thing, and we don't ever want to get there.

Cowboneneck8 karma

Hey Steve and Derek! Are you still planning on writing an "Esther Approved" cookbook?

EstherTheWonderPig13 karma

100% yes!! We want to get working on it immediately, and it will be very much online with what you see in "Esther's Kitchen" on Facebook. Simple, familiar, and approachable recipes that will appeal to vegans, and perhaps more importantly, non vegans. Our focus is always on bringing new people into an "Esther Approved" lifestyle, so we feel very strongly about showing traditional family style food, made in a kinder and healthier way.

celestejulia8 karma

Hi Steve and Derek, I wondered how you adjusted to life as a vegan/animal rights activist regarding your social circles and family? Do you find it upsetting when you go out for dinner with friends and they order pork, or are all your friends vegetarian/vegan?

EstherTheWonderPig11 karma

This is a tough one. We try to remember that just a few years ago we hadn't even seriously considered changing our lifestyle, so we try not to get too upset. That said, it's hard not sometimes, particularly if you're with family or close friends.

JunctionDweller7 karma

Hi Guys & Princess Esther! So happy you are on Reddit!:) My husband & I went on the mother's day tour and met all your beautiful animals and caring volunteers! My question, you are both so hardworking and dedicated, what do you do to balance the all out media work, farming, animals etc. with your life as a couple?

EstherTheWonderPig8 karma

That has been the hardest part to be honest, and something we're still trying to sort out. We definitely get lots of alone time in the evenings, but otherwise our schedules can be really crazy. We hope to get the pieces in place ASAP that will allow us a more structured schedule.

blindpandacub7 karma

What's the biggest challenge you've faced since adopting Esther?

EstherTheWonderPig10 karma

Adapting our house to suit her behaviour. She's not bad, but very curious so all food was moved to high cupboards, freezer secured closed etc. Toilet training was also hard because we started with a litter box. As Esther grew it became obvious litter was the wrong choice, so we switched and took her outside to do her business. That was a nightmare! Months of litter training and we tried to change it overnight. It took a weeks to fix, but she's a champ now

87crisis7 karma

hey guys, much love from australia where me and the wife keep an eye on esther's antics in our spare time and i must say i'm thankful for your facebook posts and the fact that they are always so light hearted, positive or even comically inspirational :P

the world can be a negative place and it's all doom and gloom or superficial crap that we tend to see in the cheers for a breathe of fresh air =)

i must ask though, the dogs are amazingly well behaved - how did they go about adjusting to life with esther and did they just tolerate her or do they play together every so often?

EstherTheWonderPig11 karma

The dogs have been amazing!! I think the only reason it works, is because they met Esther when she was much smaller than them. She learned that they were boss, and she still knows. She has very much become part of their "pack" but she wants nothing to do with the sanctuary animals. She's deathly afraid of the other big pigs. It's funny, but said at the same time.

susyflory6 karma

I bought the book on Kindle and read it last night and this morning 💜. How many human words does Esther understand? Also, what is her own vocabulary like? Does she make a large variety of sounds to communicate or does she more often use body language? Thanks!

EstherTheWonderPig12 karma

Her vocabulary is incredible! She makes so many noises, and many are easily identifiable. For example, she has a certain squeek she makes when she's talking to Reuben, and only Reuben. A different one for Shelby our other dog. It's really incredible. As for what she understands, I'm sure she's fluent in English, and perhaps a little French. 😜 I would bet my life she understands ALOT of what we say. She responds to everything the dogs do like "walkies" "dinner time" "besides" "what's this" etc. If she chooses to follow your request is a whole other discussion. Hahaha.

EstherTheWonderPig6 karma

The way we have it laid out now, is Derek is the Farm Manager and does receive a salary. I'm on the board of directors with two other people, so ultimately Derek and I have input, but not full control. We can't set his salary, and I can't receive one at all as a board member.

natty_scrumppo6 karma

Hi guys! Love you and Esther so much! Thank you for being an inspiration and wonderful example for everyone who unwittingly takes on more than they expected and finds a way for it to work. I can't wait to read the book and learn more about Esther's and your lives. My question: is Esther free to move about the house wherever, or do you employ 'baby gates' to try and keep her from certain areas? Also, possibly a dumb question: do you have anything like the equivalent of a doggie door installed for Esther so that she may come and go as she pleases?

Thanks so much! Kisses to Esther!

EstherTheWonderPig10 karma

Esther has total freedom in the house, except the second floor, and that's only because it's an older century home so she take manage the steep steps. We don't have a doggie door, but she can open the door herself, so she comes and goes as she pleases too. Hahahaha. We plan to put a door in her bedroom too a second smaller backyard. That way she'll have easier access to an outdoor space in the event we need to travel, and have a house sitter who's too nervous to allow her into the larger spaces.

jmd5206 karma

Hey Steve Derek and Esther, Can't wait to read the book! It seems like Esther's/the sanctuary's platform is growing every day. Do you have plans to expand the sanctuary itself? (ie more land, more animals, more employees, etc)

EstherTheWonderPig7 karma

Absolutely. As of now we are focusing on making sure our existing farm is Cambellvile is sustainable, and financially secure. Then we will look into expansion to additional farms, perhaps even additional countries.

adamissuperb6 karma

Hey Steve and Dereck! Congratulations on the book publification! I've been a follower since March this year. I absolutely loved your posts every day and always put a smile on my face. I have a question that I have been curious about for a long time, when does Esther wake up everyday and when does she go to bed? Does she wake up during the night somtimes and wake you up walking aroung?

EstherTheWonderPig9 karma

Esther typically goes to bed around 7-7:30 (slightly later as summer goes on) and she sleeps through the night (99.9%) of the time. Occasionally she'll get up to pee, but takes herself straight back to bed. Most days she's up between 8:30-9, but has been known to sleep as late as 11 on a fairly regular basis. 😀

jmd5206 karma

Have you ever considered taking Esther on a "tour"? Is that possible to do with an animal like her?

EstherTheWonderPig16 karma

We have been asked many times, but we don't think it's fair to Esther. Travel can be really hard on animals, not to mention paperwork etc in the event we went to the USA. It's too much for her, so we allow people to meet her during sanctuary tours and workdays, if she's in the mood to come out and say hi. We allow her to live on her terms, so if she doesn't come out when people are here, we feel bad, but it is what it is unfortunately.

DanaFiori5 karma

Hi Esther, Steve and Derek! How do you guys wind up with your various HEEFs rescues? And do you plan to add any more animals to Esther's possy?

EstherTheWonderPig10 karma

Esther's online presence put us in a unique situation, receiving requests to take in animals from all over the world. All of our current residents have come from closing commercial farms, zoos, or personal "pets" that were no longer working out. We bring animals here as an absolute last resort. Our primary objective is to rehome via Esther's Army on Facebook, and our growing network of contacts. That way we always have room for the emergency situations where the animal has no other alternative.

louiselouisebelcher5 karma

hi steve, derek & esther!!! i've been following your story for a long time and you guys bring so much joy to my life. my question is: in lots of pictures esther genuinely seems to be smiling. i know my dogs smile, do you find that she's really smiling? and is her famous side eye really done out of attitude?? much love!!

EstherTheWonderPig9 karma

That side eye is definitely attitude! It's hilarious. She'll turn her head most of the time, unless she's not interested or annoyed, then you get side eye. As for her smile, she definitely smiles, but typically when she's sleeping and relaxed. The open mouth smiles you see, are usually her enjoying a slice of apple. : )

susyflory5 karma

In the book, you mentioned that Esther sometimes nudges with her head when she's upset. Does she ever bite? (I'd love to get a pig and we have the space--but I remember a friend who had a small pig that became ill-tempered and began to bite when she was about a year old.)

EstherTheWonderPig8 karma

She will definitely give a warning snap if you're annoying her, we've learned to understand the warning she gives though. She always tells you vocally first, then steps up her game if you don't pay attention. She is also specific in which people can get away with what. For example I (Steve) can get away with a lot compared to even Derek, who can get away with almost anything compared to a stranger. Pigs a funny that way, they choose who they love, who they kinda like, and who they definitely do not like. Generally though, she's very good.

snakeoil-huckster5 karma

Hi! Absolutely love following you guys on facebook. Esthers personality shines through. As a pig owner myself (her name is Esther Louise), I have to ask. How do you bathe her? Does she enjoy it? Also, do you make her outfits? I would love to have some for my girl but can never find them. Maybe you can start a fashion line?

EstherTheWonderPig10 karma

We bathe Esther outside using warm water and tea tree shampoo. She doesn't mind it, although she isn't a big fan of face washes. We also know of a few companies that make amazing and hilarious coats etc for pigs. If you email us, we can definitely send you the details. : )

EstherTheWonderPig4 karma

Yes. We already have Japan, Poland, France, and Italy on board. We hope to have a few more very soon.

SheilaSisi4 karma

Congratulation on your book! It must have been hard work, when working on it and with all the animals and your activities. Beside being very happy, are you also a litte afraid of having even less privacy in the future? The book is going to be #1.

EstherTheWonderPig9 karma

It has definitely changed things! Never did we expect to be recognized in a Grocery Store, or a pub. We live in a very private spot though, so the animal sanctuary has also very become our sanctuary. We love it here. Hopefully we won't have any privacy issues in the future, but if we do we would assume it's because Esther is having an even bigger impact than we thought, and I'll happily sacrifice some privacy if it means people are hearing our story, and allowing Esther to impact their daily choices.

DiannePipher4 karma

Was it hard transitioning to farm life? How did you learn how to take care of all the animals and land? I follow Esther everyday and really enjoy her posts! Thank you for all the work you do!

EstherTheWonderPig7 karma

It was definitely hard, and still has its moments. We have learned everything we know on the fly, and thanks to an amazing network of people who know more than us. Hahahaha. It's been a crazy few years, but we're getting into the swing of it now for sure.

EstherTheWonderPig4 karma

We can't say for sure if she actually watches, but she does listen. Her ears move frequently when the tv is on. We tend to watch comedy or documentaries, so Esther does the same. : )

EstherTheWonderPig4 karma

We have removed the frame, and staggered the mattress over the box spring so she can use it as a step. We never liked her climbing on our full height bed, it was a concern for us too.

EstherTheWonderPig3 karma

Absolutely! We love cookbooks. Nom Yourself- Simple Vegan Cooking is one of our faves. Vegan Zombie also has an awesome book, and "Oh She Glows".

Txgirl20163 karma

Do you have a garden or plan to grow a garden to help feed the animals? On a related note, do you feed the other pigs the same diet as Esther?

EstherTheWonderPig5 karma

We do have a garden! We are building the fencing now, and hope to have it done very soon. It's about .5 acres, plus an acre of fruit trees that will hopefully cover the majority of our fresh produce needs. And yes, Esther eats the same diet as the sanctuary pigs. We have a kibble manufactured for us that helps maintain healthy weight, and ensures they get all the vitamins and minerals they need. In pretty sure the pigs eat better than us humans. Hahahaha

EstherTheWonderPig3 karma

I think we underestimated how much time it would take to make it ready for animals. We still have space we haven't been able to fence simply because there aren't enough hours in the day. It's crazy! As for a wedding, we can't say never, but we're 16 years in, so who knows. Maybe at some point. : )

Missy05133 karma

Esther sure loves her daddies. Are there other people that she is good with & are there people she doesn't like?

EstherTheWonderPig6 karma

Absolutely. For the most part she likes everybody, there are very few people she doesn't like at all, although there are some that no matter how often she meets them, wants nothing to do with them.

ItsLikeIHaveESP_N3 karma

Can you tell us more about your transitions to an "Esther approved" diet. Was it an immediate decision or something you slowly grew into?

EstherTheWonderPig10 karma

At first we told ourselves "that's it, no more pork". But we also decided to start looking into some documentaries for more info. We watched Vegucated, Cowspiracy, and Forks over Knives. All super easy to watch, non graphic, but informational enough that we both agreed giving up pork wasn't enough. Once you've made the decision to find out what the food industry actually looks like, there's no looking back. It's terrifying.

JamesCole3 karma

Do Shelby and Reuben ever join Esther in the pool?

(and BTW, when are Esther and Captain Dan getting together?? ;-))

EstherTheWonderPig9 karma

Hahahaha!! Esther can't date until she's 30. 😜 The dogs will often lay near the pool while she's there, but the closest they get to climbing in is grabbing a little drink.

Cowboneneck3 karma

Any idea when the audio book will be available???

EstherTheWonderPig3 karma

Soon we hope! The recording was finished last week, so I believe it should be any day now.

StigersFan3 karma

Hi Steve and Derek Esther has changed my life too. Really admire what you have been through to get to the here-and-now. It will be a couple of weeks before my copy of the book arrives in the UK! So my question - does Esther enjoy having her hooves clipped? I saw a video clip once where it looked like Derek was ready to jump out of the way when Esther turned her head, so I am guessing not one of her favourites!

EstherTheWonderPig5 karma

Esther is great with having her hooves trimmed. We always do them one foot at a time while she's laying down. She usually lets us work for at least 15-20min before she'll tick in her legs. So then we wait and carry on the next evening.

CindyRutherford3 karma

Hi Guys! Do the doggies sleep downstairs with Esther at night?

EstherTheWonderPig6 karma

Not very often, but they do sleep with her a lot through the day, and occasionally Shelby will have an overnight in Esther's room.

EstherTheWonderPig3 karma

We would love more birds! We have chickens, a rooster, and a peacock, but we would love turkeys and ducks at some point.

EstherTheWonderPig3 karma

We have an amazing vet! He comes to see us at home, and we're only 20min away from the Ontario Veterinary College, and it's an amazing facility for emergencies.

Hyenabreeder3 karma

What's your favorite recipe/dish?

EstherTheWonderPig10 karma

Cashew Cheese for sure! You can make it so quickly, and use it a ton of ways. More agar makes a former cheese, or use less and add taco spice for a crazy delicious nacho cheese dip. It's a super versatile recipe, and so easy to make.

DanaFiori3 karma

How many beds does Esther go through? Why does she chew them up? And do you guys get them through a discount somewhere or donated? (B/c even regular dog beds can be super expensive!)

EstherTheWonderPig7 karma

She's goes through about 6 mattress a year, a basic twin mattress. We think it's just her natural instinct to "root" or dig her nose into things to fluff her bed, like a dog when they walk in circles. Don't think she means to tear it, but once a year starts, they spread quickly.

Stage4_HeebieJeebies2 karma

Does Esther have plans to become a mommy in the future?

I own a cat with some funny quirks, for example he likes to butt slide down his slanted cardboard scratcher. Does esther have any adorable quirks we don't know of?

Also, thank you! What you do for these animals is amazing.

EstherTheWonderPig17 karma

No unfortunately she doesn't. We couldn't possibly in good conscience bring more pigs into the world, when we know how many are currently out there in need of a home, or even worse, trapped on a commercial farm. We couldn't live with ourselves if we ever allowed her to have babies as much as we would love to.